What’s the deal with veal?

im only a baby

I think veal sums up everything that is bizarre and cruel about eating meat.  Veal is the meat of bull calves – usually from dairy cattle.  These calves are taken away from their mothers at around a day old and then kept in hutches, stalls or indoor sheds to restrict movement so as to prevent connective tissue from developing as the paler the meat the better the quality is considered.  Nice.

And of course these are the lucky ones.  Or unlucky ones. Depends on how you see it.  Up to 99,000 are still shot every year and over 10,000 exported to the continent because the demand for veal in this country is obviously nothing like the demand for dairy so there is a huge surplus of male dairy calves.  Just imagine a pile of 99,000 dead day old male calves – what a heinous waste – just so that we can have our milk and cheese.  How can a pint of semi-skimmed milk or a chunk of cheddar ever justify the barbaric means?

Veal has always been a controversial issue in terms of animal welfare but there are improvements happening and people are becoming more aware.

Multiple animal welfare organizations, who strongly focus on factory farming, have spent decades trying to educate consumers about several veal production procedures they consider to be inhumane. This education has proven successful in creating pressure on the industry, resulting in changes in the methods used by the veal industry over the past 30 years or so.

Living space was always a huge issue of concern and a strong animal welfare movement concerning veal started in the 1980s with the release of photographs of veal calves tethered in crates where they could barely move. After the release of these photographs, veal sales plummeted, and have never recovered.


Veal crates thank became illegal in the UK in 1990, and a full ban was placed for the entire European Union in 2007.  The American Veal Association has announced their plan to phase out the use of crates by 2017.  So that’s at least progress.

Although not common in the UK, veal farms are widespread on the continent. Around six million calves are reared for veal within the EU every year. The biggest EU producers are France (over 1.4 million calves), the Netherlands (1.5 million calves) and Italy (almost 800,000 calves).

If you insist on eating veal then here’s a good article with guidelines on how to do it as ethically as you can from the freedomfood.com website:

What’s the deal with ethical veal?

What's the deal with ethical veal?

 You know that a golden rule is to never eat veal if you care about animal welfare. Right?

Well, it is not quite that simple.  The veal industry rightly got a very bad name due to the use of veal crates, one of the most bizarre and cruel ways to keep calves it is possible to come up with.  Fortunately, the crates were banned in the UK in 1990 and eventually banned across the EU in 2006.  But while crates may be a thing of the past and the calves have to be given some roughage as part of their diet, the standards for rearing veal calves in the EU are still lower than those required in Britain.  It’s not just the amount of space provided that is different.  Calves on the continent don’t have to be given straw bedding once they are more than two weeks old and EU legislation does not require their diet to be sufficiently iron-rich to avoid the animals becoming anaemic.  All-in-all, it is hardly surprising that veal has disappeared from the welfare-conscious shopper’s trolley.  But if you eat meat, like a drop of milk in your tea or a slice of cheese in your sandwich, it is time to think again.

There is a very strong argument for eating veal – but only British high-welfare or British rose veal*. About 10,000 male British dairy calves were killed last year, simply for being the wrong sex and unable to produce milk. With the ban on live transport lifted, a further shocking 11,000 were shipped abroad last year – and the live transport trade is growing. Animal lovers are rightly concerned about the fact that live calves are transported over these distances, sometimes in appalling conditions and having experienced the trauma of auction, to live in conditions illegal in the UK.  It’s an issue Compassion in World Farming and the RSPCA have been trying to tackle through a forum on veal calf exports they set up in 2006.  A recent RSPCA survey revealed consumers are really concerned about live transport and an epetition against the live export of calves is currently gathering signatures (http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/42002) .

British high welfare veal provides another, ethical option. Calves can be reared in the UK where legally they have to be given bedding and a proper diet that not only ensures their digestive systems can develop normally, but also ensures they do not become anaemic. Choose veal with the Freedom Food logo and the animals will have been reared to RSPCA standards, which ensures higher welfare.

Farmers like Freedom Food member David Tory are raising British veal calves which are free to run around with pen mates and in fact have a longer life than chicken, pigs, turkeys and lamb!

Your choices make such a difference – so always make sure it’s British high-welfare veal – whether you are cooking at home or eating out.

*Freedom Food labelled British high welfare veal comes from calves reared to the RSPCA welfare standards, slaughtered between 6 and 12 months.  They must have evidence that their blood haemoglobin is above accepted levels.  Calves slaughtered between 8 and 12 months can also be called ‘rose’ veal.

It’s happened!


It’s finally happened.  After nearly a full year of being vegan I have stopped seeing meat as food and started seeing meat for what it is – dead animal flesh.  I thought that I would always look a big juicy red steak or a steaming bacon butty and always think how delicious it looked but know that it was off limits now.  I never predicted that I would start looking at meat and feeling a little queasy… and it’s suddenly happened.  I was walking down the Northcote Road when I walked past our local butchers and I just stopped and stared in the window at all the different cuts of meat and the carcasses hanging in the window and I found myself just staring and thinking how completely wrong it looked.  I suppose that once your brain has stopped looking at meat and saying ‘food’ for long enough it starts saying what it is – ‘flesh’, ‘dead animal’ and it’s the most bizarre things as it is at this point that you suddenly see meat for what it is.  So I suppose in the same way that I was taught growing up that meat is food, protein, sustenance etc… I have slowly unlearned this over the past year. 

So whereas a year ago my reaction to the two photos above would have been massively different; to the skinned dog carcasses – complete disgust and horror; to the skinned pig carcass – not my favourite thing in the world but completely fine to look at and not remotely upsetting.  Now, a year on, my reaction to both is pretty much the same – it looks entirely wrong, horribly cruel, 100% unnecessary, completely barbaric and just makes me feel incredibly sad.  We don’t need to eat these animals and there is no justification for this absurdly cruel practice. 

Please.  Stop.  Eating.  Animals. 


Making the Connection

Great documentary well worth half an hour of anyone’s time.
It’s nice to come across a documentary about veganism which doesn’t include lots of graphic images of animals being abused which no one wants to see. This thoughtful documentary gives a snapshot of a dozen or so different people who have adopted a vegan lifestyle for various different reasons ranging from an elite marathon runner to a top London chef and from a stock free veganic Hampshire farmer to a breastfeeding mother. Really thought provoking and insightful.

I Do Not Have to Respect Your Choice to Eat Meat

Great post. Well argued. Thanks

Ranting, Ranting, 1, 2, 3...

I just got off the phone with my grandmother, who informed me that as she respects my choice to be vegan, I ought to respect her (and others) choice to eat meat. She doesn’t get upset when people choose to do things differently to her. I shouldn’t push my views on others.

This is just not true. I have no obligation to respect people eating meat, or dairy, or eggs. In fact, I have an obligation not to respect these activities, even if you are otherwise wonderful.

This is not a personal preference of mine. I never get upset when people eat sprouts just because I dislike them. This is a moral issue, and when one understands a certain action to be immoral, they then see it as immoral in all cases, not just relating to them. We judge people for behaving immorally.

This is difficult, because there are times…

View original post 1,230 more words

Really upsetting video but people need to see this stuff.

I have phoned a lot of ‘meat production units’ around the UK and not one will give me a guided tour and show me around the premises to see what goes on inside. Not outside of working hours, not any time. So we have to resort to undercover filming… And this is what we find. This is not an improvised scene. This is not elaborated. This is cold hard footage and as upsetting as it is to watch – I think it’s important that we do. if this doesn’t make you question whether or not you can really justify eating meat, then I don’t know what will.

Between 2009 and 2011, Animal Aid filmed secretly inside nine randomly chosen British slaughterhouses. We found evidence of cruelty and law breaking in eight of them. The problems are serious and widespread. Our films revealed animals being kicked, slapped, stamped on, and picked up by fleeces and ears and thrown into stunning pens. We recorded animals being improperly stunned and going to the knife while still conscious. We filmed animals deliberately and illegally beaten and pigs burned with cigarettes.

Even where no laws were broken, animals still suffered pain and fear. And ‘high welfare’ plants, such as those accredited by the Soil Association and Freedom Food, were no better than the standard ones, and were guilty of breaches of the welfare laws. Animal Aid believes that whether ‘conventional’, organic, kosher or halal, all slaughter is unnecessary and immoral, and the only way to prevent such suffering is to go vegan.

How Can You Help?
•Choose an animal-free diet. There is no kind way to slaughter animals, and the best way to prevent their suffering is not to eat them. Animal Aid is here to help and advise anyone wishing to adopt a more compassionate diet.
•The slaughter industry is demanding less external regulation, even though Animal Aid’s investigations show it cannot be trusted to obey the law. Please help us campaign for mandatory CCTV in all UK slaughterhouses by ordering campaign postcards from info@animalaid.co.uk.
•Ask your MP to sign EDM 951, which calls for mandatory CCTV for all slaughterhouses.
•Write a letter to your local newspaper about slaughterhouse cruelty. Let its readers know that Animal Aid can send a free Go Veggie and Vegan pack to anyone who requests one.

‘What Would Happen to All the Animals if Everyone Went Vegan?’


This question is one of the more annoying I think as it implies a great concern for the animals that they have somehow concluded it’s better to continue raising for slaughter than to stop eating them and risk not having them all around us adorning our green fields.  It goes to the very heart of everything that is wrong with out attitudes towards eating animals.  We have these wonderfully old-fashioned images in our heads of happy cows and chirpy chickens spending their days lolling around in deep green meadows and we think that represents everything that is British and wonderful. ‘Jerusalem’ starts playing in our heads at full tempo – but trust me, go and have a look where your last steak, bacon rasher or chicken breast came from – and the dark satanic mills will more likely spring to mind than England’s pleasant pastures seen!

Thus is the power of advertising!  And it’s just such a naïve and ignorant view that it’s really frustrating how out of touch we are.  Over 99% of meat in the States is factory farmed and the UK is heading the same way!

If any of us saw what was going on behind factory farm fences and slaughterhouse walls I’m not sure we’d hold such a nostalgic scene so close to our hearts!

 In answer to the question above – here is a brief outline of what would happen.

As we reduce the number of animals we are eating, fewer pigs, turkeys, cows, sheep, fish and other animals will be inseminated for breeding so fewer animals will be raised for slaughter, which means less killing and suffering.  Less animals means less demand for GMO corn, soy, alfalfa and other feed grains, and thus less deforestation, monocropping, and pollution. As this continues, there will be more food to go around, and also monocropped land can be returned to being critically-needed habitat for wildlife, whose populations are being decimated by the habitat loss caused by grazing livestock and growing feed grains.

As the vegan trend continues, streams will come back and run cleaner. Birds, fish, and other animals will start to thrive as there will be less toxic pesticides and fertilizers needed, and the oceans, which we are devastating, will slowly begin to heal and replenish. As studies continually demonstrate, livestock production is the main driving force behind global warming, and so this also will decrease. In addition, by eating less animal-based foods, people will be healthier physically as they eliminate the toxic fat, cholesterol, and animal protein that drive obesity, diabetes, arthritis, cancer, kidney disease, heart disease, and drug dependency. People will become healthier emotionally and spiritually as they feel better about their food choices.  Less people will be forced to work in slaughterhouses which can only be a good thing for them!

The devastating mass extinction of species that is going on right now will slow down. To raise and slaughter hundreds of millions animals daily for food on this planet, we are forcing hundreds of species of animals and plants into extinction every week. Because of our appetites for a few species of birds, mammals, and fish, we are destroying the Earth’s genetic diversity, and it seems absurd to be unconcerned about these tens of thousands of species, but to care only about the few that we’re eating. In any event, the animals we raise for slaughter today for food lived freely in nature for millions of years and could do so again. The animals that we most intensely farm for food and products, such as turkeys, ducks, geese, chickens, and fish, are all doing just fine in the wild (aside from being hunted and having their habitat destroyed!). They would continue to do so, and this is also true for pigs, sheep, and goats, which even today have substantial wild populations. There is no reason to think that the animals we are eating and using wouldn’t be able to return to their natural lives living freely in nature—they already are!

Cows are the only possible question—their progenitors, the aurochs, were forced into extinction in the 1600s, but it is certainly conceivable that cows could be reintroduced into central Asia and Africa where they lived for millions of years, and with time would return to the ecological niche they inhabited before we tore them from their ancestral homelands.

So, it’s a refreshing question to ponder. It’s remarkably uplifting and heartening to reflect on “what will happen if we all stop eating meat, dairy products, and eggs?”   There’s really nothing except our culturally mandated, deeply-ingrained, and deluded habits of routinely abusing animals for food.  Each one of us has the power to stop eating animals and it will take us a small step closer to a happier, more sustainable, more compassionate, peaceful world.